Alexa, Siri, Home – H.A.L. 9000’s grandchildren

Like any attempt to kill off the star of a show you always know they never really die. Take Bobby Ewing from Dallas, I still don’t understand how he turned up in the shower after so long “dead” and don’t get me started on the cast of EastEnders. But clearly Dave did not de-activate H.A.L. 9000 in 1968 as we are starting to see clear descendants from H.A.L in the form of Siri, Alexa, and Home. I want to introduce you to H.A.L’s children and see what they’re up to and how they’re performing.

Siri

Siri is H.A.L. oldest grand child born in 2003 to Adam Cheyer who worked at SRI International. Siri was intially named “Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes” or CALO to friends, until Siri was baptised in 2008 with god parents. Dag Kittlaus and another guy named Gruber who decided that Siri would be nicer name during the early years at school. In 2010 Siri was adopted by a wealthy foster parent, Steve Jobs, who worked at some company named after a fruit, called Apple.

Steve Jobs introduced Siri to a lot of people he knew and before not too long people all over the world could be heard saying “Hey, Siri” over their iPhones. When Siri was fairly young, Siri’s voice control replies would be somewhat strange and not related to what was asked in the first instance. I remember asking Siri once, “Siri call Mum” and Siri would reply “playing Mumford and Sons”…. bless.

That said, Siri has developed over recent years and just like any teenager in a modern Smart Home, Siri is in total charge of the [Apple] television but Siri has still got a lot of growing up to do to accurately understand voice control commands I give.

Alexa

The talents of H.AL’s second grand child, Alexa, started to be recognised in 2011 by Jeff Bezos who worked at a very large shop, called Amazon. Jeff really saw the potential for Alexa as being an intelligent musician, capable of playing any music I could possibly think of, reading the news aloud and ordering my groceries. Jeff soon got Alexa working hard in the labs. Now Alexa has a family of her own, called Echo, Dot and Tap. Echo certainly has the best voice and is best sat in the corner of the room playing music. Dot, is much smaller than her sibling and great at playing hide and seek, Dot like Echo are both very good at voice recognition and respond to my commands well. Tap is the smallest and named Tap because all you have to do is tap him and he runs to the supermarket and buys essentials such as washing powder and nappies.

I really see the Alexa family as the big players in the world. They have the ability to work on their own playing music from Spotify, TuneFM, etc and they are great at creating a shopping and to-do lists. I only have to say “Alexa add strawberries to my shopping list” or “Alexa set an alarm for 6.30am” and without fail one of the Alexa family responds and actions my voice control request without me writing down or touching anything. Clever kids! I have seen real potential in the Alexa family recently when I introduced them to Control4. They played really well together and very quickly I saw great team work. I would say “Alexa, turn on Dining” and instantly Echo or Dot would run off to Control4 who would instantly turn on my dining table lights to really nice ambient 65% whilst at the same time reducing the main lights in the room to 20%. A nice little touch was when Dot also played my favourite chill out playlist on Spotify through our home speakers, impressing our guests.

Home

Now I hear H.A.L. has another grandchild on the way, called Home. Initially I thought they could have named their child something a little more appealing than “Home” but then I remembered the parents are called Google! Google’s Home is due in November 2016 and I am excited to hear of the arrival. Knowing that the parents are pretty loaded and almost verging on world dominance I am sure Home has a future in well …. homes and I am guessing as they are currently researching into the automotive industry, in cars too.

H.A.L.’s other children

Now Siri, Alexa and Home are the well known descendants of H.A.L but let me tell you, I know there are others and the list is growing every month! Josh.Ai is certainly one to look out for when s/he arrives. Given the rumours, not only can Josh.Ai understand simple voice control commands like the children of the Siri. Alexa and Home families but Alex Capecelatro and Tim Gill tell me their child can control my heating, lighting, cameras, sound system and even my garage doors using a multiple voice control commands not just one…. now I REALLY CAN NOT WAIT TO MEET Josh.Ai

Dear families above, please do not sue me for mentioning your children. I know a lot of people can be frightened to let them in their homes, in fear they will be listening in on their private conversations but their fear is, hopefully, unfounded and probably driven by their grandfather’s space antics in the 60’s. I am nonetheless very excited at their existence. As a Smart Home Technology Expert I really believe everyone in the world will eventually invite them into their homes, interact and talk to your children everyday as they would their own.

John Hickmott – smarttech.expert  CEDIA Certified Designer

Technical Director – www.automatedsmarthomes.co.uk